As everyone is heading back to school, I thought it was the perfect time to share my favorite things about teaching Preschool and what you can expect from sending your child to school:
A alphabet: A big part of preschool is exposure to the alphabet. This may look different depending on the age of your child but in my classroom (2.5- young 4) we start letter recognition by using the child's name; it's personal so it's important to the child and it's not too long.
art: art is a huge learning opportunity. It's sensory, visual, creative and there is no wrong way to do it!
B boundaries: being in a room full of children, you quickly learn about boundaries. Be it personal boundaries (sitting too close to someone, or talking to loudly) to physical boundaries (no hitting), boundaries keep us safe and comfortable.
C circle time: one of my favorite things to do with my student is have circle time. We sing songs, have discussions, play games and do yoga stretches. It's our chance to come together as a group and share the same experience.
D diversity: Everyone is unique and with that comes the chance to celebrate each other's differences.
E emotional development: this is a very big factor of Preschool. Being able to talk about feelings, identifying the feelings of other's by reading their facial expressions, regulating self. This is probably the most important aspect of growth I see in my students.
F fine motor development: building up the small muscles in the hand and fingers to be able to manipulate writing tools, small toys and also self-feeding.
G gross (large) motor: working the bigger muscles in the body to support jumping, running, climbing, bike riding and all that other fun stuff!
H homework: just kidding!!! Not at this age thank goodness!
I independence: learning how to do things on their own is also something I like to focus on with my students. Being able to put on their own jacket, put on shoes, clean up after themselves are all things we work on throughout the year.
J journaling: Each of my students has a journal where they draw a picture and then dictate to me what they have drawn. It puts words to their ideas and also gives them more exposure to the written word (alphabet).
K kicks (shoes): Ok it's a little bit of a stretch, but the proper footwear is important! Closed toe shoes are the rule at our school. The playground is safest when those toes are protected. Also, shoes that your child can take off and put on independently are so important, slip ons, Velcro, NO laces; let's set them up for success!
L language development: I get children as young as 2.5 years old (the age Kinsey was when she started Preschool) and sometimes little voices are hard to understand. We talk together a-l-l d-a-y l-o-n-g, and I can usually detect speech delays by the end of the first week. This is the perfect time to start speech therapy if there is a problem. This is also a time when children's vocabularies really take off!
M meals: At my school, we share two snacks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and lunch. Eating together is a great time for social interactions but also for learning safe eating etiquette, like chewing and swallowing before talking and staying seated while eating.
N nap time: There is a 2.5 hour window for napping but that varies by school. Schools usually provides the mats. Bringing a favorite blanket and pillow help to ease anxiety about sleeping in a new place. I also play soft, soothing music with the lights out.
O outside play: fresh air, exposure to the elements, nature. All good things for growing minds and bodies.
P pottying skills: Unless your Preschool helps with potty training, it is against the law to help with wiping. Verbal assistance is appropriate but that can only help with so much. Practice wiping at home. If flushable wipes are preferred, ask the teacher if they can be left in your child's cubby for easy access. Also, pants without snaps/buttons are best when potty training to bypass any accidents due to struggling with undoing them.
Q quality care: Preschools are state regulated and employ educated people to help care for and teach children. Look for places that have manageable student to teacher ratios (12:1 is by law, our school is 10:1 for full time care.) Look for clean facilities and trust your gut, if something doesn't "feel" right, you're probably right. And above all, you know your children best! Some thrive in Montessori settings, some do best in play-based schools, with so many options you will find the perfect school for your little!
R reading: reading out loud is huge when instilling a love of books in children. Books are always available in my classroom and are rotated through weekly to keep the children engaged. We have a huge selection of books in our school's resource room, I have my own personal collection and I utilize the public library. Some schools do Scholastic Book Orders and if yours does, take advantage of it! Those books are priced cheap and are good quality.
S social development: making friends, talking and sharing ideas, expressing likes/dislikes (in an appropriate way), turn-taking are just a small part of social development that goes on in Preschool. The basic foundation of social interactions begins in the early years and it is magical to witness.
T teachers: your child's teacher is the "surrogate parent" during their time at school. It is important to like them! If you just can't connect with them it is ok to switch classrooms. It is important your child likes them, too. Teachers should be available for conversations, questions, concerns and sometimes texts/ notes. I make sure to call my parents the week before school to introduce myself. Our school has a Meet and Greet the Saturday before school starts to ease anxiety and get familiar with the classroom/ teacher. I will write notes about each and every student's first day for the parents. And twice a year we have parent-teacher conferences to go over student progress. Teachers are here for your child and here for you!
U unintentional germ spreading: and this is self-explanatory! With so many little bodies in a space it is inevitable that germs will be spread. Hand washing is practiced. Teaching your child to sneeze into their elbow eliminates germs getting onto their hands and spreading by touch. As a teacher, I get the flu shot every year. Just be prepared.
V values: be it manners, beliefs, or code of conduct, classrooms have their set of values that everyone is expected to respect. Knowing the rules makes for less negative behavior and harmony is always a good thing.
W weekdays: 5 days a week. 3 days a week. 2 days a week. Full time, all day. Part time, half day. Afternoon care. Monday through Friday.
X xylophone for music appreciation: another stretch (but really, 'X' is hard!) Musical instruments (think hand held; egg shakers, maracas, cymbals, bells, nothing that goes in the mouth haha) are always on hand (get it?! harhar) in my classroom. Singing songs is also another great way to enjoy music. Scarf dancing/ freeze dancing partners well too.
Y youth: childhood passes in the blink of an eye. Let's enjoy this fleeting and precious stage together!